Aliso Viejo deadly bombing: Long Beach man gets life in prison for killing ex-girlfriend

A Long Beach man who planted a homemade bomb that killed his ex-girlfriend and permanently injured two others at an Aliso Viejo day spa in 2018 was sentenced Friday to life plus 30 years in federal prison for crimes described by the judge as "chilling."

Stephen Beal, 64, was convicted in July in downtown Los Angeles of federal counts including use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, malicious destruction of a building resulting in death, use of a destructive device in a crime of violence and possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Before imposing sentence, U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton said the motive for Beal's plot to murder 48-year-old Ildiko Krajnyak -- who co- owned the Magyar Kozmetika spa -- was revenge.

"He wanted her dead simply because she didn't want to continue their romantic relationship," the judge said, adding that the murder took place months after the couple broke up. "The defendant apparently decided revenge is a dish best served cold."

Beal was arrested in March 2019 in connection with the May 15, 2018, explosion that killed Krajnyak and critically injured a mother and daughter.

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When Krajnyak rejected Beal and made no secret of dating other men, he "channeled his humiliation into hatching a plan to take revenge," prosecutors said in Los Angeles federal court during the trial.

Stephen Beal was sentenced to life plus 30 years on Friday.

Staton said the 30-year prison sentence she imposed upon Beal following his life term was symbolic and appropriate because of the savage nature of the offense.

"The defendant is a danger to the public (and) is likely to remain a danger to the public for the rest of his life," the judge said.

A restitution hearing was scheduled for April 12.

Beal sat facing away from the podium as four people affected by the bombing addressed the court. A prosecutor read a statement from a woman who was injured and told of lasting physical and emotional trauma.

In a brief statement, Beal said he "always will maintain my innocence in this case," adding that he wished the "person that actually committed this crime" would be arrested.

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FBI officials said Krajnyak was killed when she opened a cardboard box near the front desk of the spa, triggering the explosive device inside. The force of the massive explosion ripped her body apart and destroyed the building.

Evidence included pieces of wire found at the bombing scene that matched wire discovered during a search of Beal's home. About a week before the explosion, Beal was seen on surveillance video purchasing the type of battery used in the explosive device.

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The defense argued during trial that Beal was a "rocket hobbyist" with a history of building and launching hobby rockets and making fireworks -- and any wire or other materials found in his home had no connection to the bomb.

In a separate case, Beal pleaded guilty in November to federal fraud charges, admitting he failed to report in a bankruptcy proceeding the $350,000 he received from his late wife's estate. Beal also schemed to fraudulently obtain insurance benefits and Social Security payments, according to federal prosecutors.

Sentencing in the fraud case is expected on Feb. 23.